Here is a link to an article I wrote that was published in Electrical Business Magazine. I’ve been writing articles for them for a couple of year.
I became fascinated by electricity when I was a child and tried to understand it. It started with me plugging some Christmas lights that our dog had chewed up. In those days the lights were run in series and if one light went out they all went out. Full voltage and current fed through each light.
What happened was…
Our dog chewed up the string of lights. His teeth cut through the insulation and exposed the copper wire. In many places the copper connected with copper from different sections of the wire. I plugged in the string of lights and was thrown across the room by the electrical shock. The sparks from the open wiring speckled me with little black dots. The current coursing through my little body hurt.
When I was 17 I joined the Canadian Navy as a Marine Electrician. It was a fantastic career because of what I learned about electricity and because I got paid to learn. I enjoyed working on the ships. The logic of fixing and maintaining the different electrical systems was challenging.
I left the Navy after 12 years but stayed with ships and worked as an electrician in the dockyard. We were getting the last ship ready to head off to the first Gulf War. On the last day I was working in an awkward position and hurt my back. The pain of the injury was nothing like the pain of hearing the doctor say over a year later “You can’t be an electrician any more.”
I had to change careers but in all the different things I did I always felt a pull back into the electrical trade. I heard an expression once… “You can take the boy out of the trade but you can’t take the trade out of the boy.”
A few years back I had major back and neck surgery leading to another career change…
I took a course in electrical estimating. It was fantastic because it got me back into the trade. I now teach the courses I took. sudermanestimating.com
The upside of it is I get to combine my love of writing with my knowledge about estimating. I have articles published in Electrical Business Magazine in a regular column, Estimating 101. Here is an article I wrote for the May 2020 edition.
Is Your Estimator Making This Mistake
Well here it is May 2021 and I’m still not following my plan.
I probably have more excuses than there are stars in the sky (except I probably use the same ones over and over).
I have actually dropped a lot of them and have settled on “I’m just not in the mood.”
The reality is mood doesn’t matter. Writing matters.
So here I am standing on the edge of another cliff that I created. I dreamed up a new book.
The title is “100 Lousy Short Stories and Poems”. I based it on a number of books I’ve read lately that were published and available in my local library. I am not a “noted” literary critic but I am a reader; the stories sucked, some of them I couldn’t even finish. What that meant to me is that I can either write or write to achieve perfection.
I ain’t perfect so I will write; some of of it will be okay, some of it will suck, some of it will be good, some of it will connect to you (hopefully) and most of it you won’t read anyway.
Here’s the first lousy short story…
Bent and Gnarled Fingers
Early mornings and late days. At the end of the day someone would say “Let’s grab a drink.” I would usually go along. It was easier than going alone.
After a couple of hours we would head out. Some went home. Some went home to a family and supper. Some went out. Me, I went a bunch of different ways depending on my head space. Sometimes it was easy to go home and do the wife, kids, supper thing. Sometimes I had to go for a drink. Sometimes I had to go be alone.
It was hard on my wife and children. My wife and I fought about it but I couldn’t explain it. I needed some of those times to catch my breath and mend my soul.
Today as I look at my bent and gnarled fingers, I feel guilty. I took the easy way out and other people paid the price. I can’t blame them. Today my children hate me.
Being an electrician is hard work but emotionally rewarding when you see what you built or repaired. (As you age the work gets harder.) I liked it because it made me think. I hated it because at the end of the day I couldn’t think or write.
Today I encourage people to enter the trade… but don’t do it because it’s available, like I did, (I couldn’t afford to go to university or college and my marks sucked because I was too lazy to work in high school… boredom is killer for me).
Enter the trade because it is challenging, educational, deals with science, math and physics… electricity is fascinating. Look at buildings, cars, appliances, lighting, solar power and so much more. Man, I love the trade.
As I age I miss it.
I miss taking a set of plans and creating something from blue lines and notes.
I miss getting called out to fix a breakdown and solving the mystery of what happened and how to fix it.
But… I should have found a way to write.
I am older now and looking at my hands, my swollen and tight knuckles, my bent and gnarled finger, I cringe. My swollen, tight knuckles ache when I type too long. My bent and gnarled fingers make it hard to hit the keyboard at times.
Sitting alone, me and a glass of wine but when I write… feeling so satisfied even though no one will read it and it is crap. BUT I AM WRITING!
First off, I hope that you have a great 2020! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I will be writing more frequently this year.
I am also finishing a transition in my writing. I have been copy writing for a number of years and enjoyed it but it was never my passion.
So what am I going to write?
Poems, short stories, flash stories and micro stories. I hope you take the time to drop around and read them. If you prefer a printed copy mailed to you let me know by subscribing.
Why the change?
I am tired of selling things, concepts and ideas for other people. I want to use the skills and experience I have gained to entertain rather than persuade. I like short stories, poems, novellas and novels.
I hope you enjoy what I write when you drop by. I am looking forward to seeing what flows from my mind onto my computer and out into the world.
The title expresses my feeling about more than 90% of the written communication I receive today. Email and text and crappy, boring flyers. I was speaking with a fellow poet earlier today and that started a bunch of thoughts rolling around in my brain. Here is the first draft of a poem that came from those thoughts and feelings. I think it needs work but as a guy who loves words and poetry and tries to communicate emotions and evoke a response I know it is going somewhere.
Black marks on a white background
Pixels forming the shapes of letters
Words on a screen
Slashed and pecked
Clicked and clacked
Thumbed or fingered
And click to send
Drab and boring
Just click and go
The power of words
Sacrificed for speed
Just to meet the instant need
Written in haste
Perhaps an emoticon
Click and gone
Then move on
No thought for the deed
Of writing words for others to heed
No sharing of soul
Speed the only goal
Words on a screen
No cadence or flow
Words sent in haste
Bland and boring
(Excuse my snoring)
Random comments on thoughts, ideas, things seen, or things overheard .
Anybody who knows me and has read my blog before knows I LOVE Fridays. Happy Friday!
Do you ever feel housebound or stuck in an office? How do you deal with that feeling?
I work from home so for me the feeling is housebound.
Usually when it happens to me I get restless, have trouble focusing and even feel a little anxious.
Today I pulled myself together and went to a coffee shop. It worked at first but it is lunch time and the lunch crowd is rolling in. Students, people who work locally, friends meeting for lunch and the odd person (like me) working.
I enjoy the energy of the people around me but when the shrillness of the voices and the volume goes up as everybody tries to talk over everybody else it overwhelms me.
Since I sat down I was able to organize several writing projects, get some quotes out, follow up on some invoices, do some research and complete the rough draft of a project I started on. A very productive few hours but it’s time to go. I can hardly hear myself think and thinking is important when you make your living from converting thoughts to printed words.
In closing here is something to think about;
“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter – ’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.” Mark Twain
Until next time,
Newsletters… have you caught onto the big change in them?
I’ve noticed a big change in newsletters over the last year. I like it.
What change you may be asking?
The biggest change is that they are getting easier to read because they have less images.
At one time you couldn’t send a newsletter without loading it with pictures to entice people to read it. Now it appears that images are on the way out.
It could be that roughly 90 per cent of people read their email on a mobile device. Images slow that down and eat data.
It could be that people want real information and a real story instead of glitz and glam.
It could be the fact that more and more newsletters are ending up as in the spam bucket because mail servers don’t trust them.
As a writer and newsletter producer I like this change. I used to spend hours laying out images in newsletters and then testing the newsletter before sending it. Some clients wanted more images than content which made them hard to produce and very time consuming.
How will this change affect newsletters?
After careful consideration I can see two improvements to newsletters because of this change.
- Headlines will get better.
- Content will get better.
A good headline or title grabs your interest and makes you want to read more but a great headline or title won’t make up for lousy content.
Two of my favourite newsletters are text only. No images, great headlines, very few links and well written about things I am interested in. I did an experiment with a newsletter I read every week. It only takes me a few minutes to read and it always makes me think I copied it into a word document and counted the number of words. I was surprised to see that it had over 1000 words in it. The word count did not include the disclaimer, the contact info or the author’s bio.
So to play on an irritating television commercial “What’s in your newsletter?”
Until next time,
(p.s. Have you ever thought of how a well written newsletter could help you earn referrals, grow your business and strengthen relationships?)
It’s been a while since I posted anything.
Like the song says…”I was lost but now am found.”
I’ve done more writing than shows up here. I’ve written website content, an email marketing piece, built a bunch of websites, half written over a dozen poems, drilled away at a bunch of short stories and punched keys on the book I am writing.
The biggest thing I have been struggling with is the loss of motivation because I haven’t been out networking and building relationships.
A short while ago I discovered that as I became less and less busy I became less and less productive.
I realized I was lost…
but now I am found.
What does that mean?
It means I am writing again. I have written more in the last sixty days than I have in the four months before that.
In March after neck surgery I lost the use of my right arm. I have some use back but am still limited.
I have found different ways to do things that I was able to do without thinking.
I have learned to accept help when it was offered.
I have been humbled and then I turned that into self-humiliation felt worth less (yes two words because I didn’t feel worthless I felt that I was not as valuable or an asset).
I developed some very bad time wasting habits because I was so unlimited by time and had such a loss of self worth. Those bad habits took control and I would spend a great deal of time being non-productive.
But my creativity has never stopped. My mind still functions and when I use it it functions better. It takes a lot of stimulus and effort to break bad habits. I had to create the habit of creativity. I had to work a few minutes at a time to push away the time wasting habits and transform creative thoughts to production.
I was lost but now am found.
In other words I am back! I have a new attitude and a wonderful appreciation of writing.
I am going to keep develop the writing habit I had and make it a strong again.
Over the last few years I spent a great deal of time networking, building relationships, meeting people, trying to grow a business but during the last few months of isolation I realized (actually it should be admitted not realized) a few things. Here are some of them…
- Not many people like me. They don’t dislike me but I am not on their “Let’s go for a coffee,lunch, drink etc. list” I am a fount of useless knowledge that most people don’t care about.
- I am not a warm and cuddly personality. I am a bit reserved (some people say aloof) and not a good let alone a great conversationalist.
- I am an introvert. I enjoy being alone. I find it hard to be out and be social because I am terrible at keeping up with conversations and knowing the various things happening in the world that people talk about.
- I would rather spend three hours writing a paragraph until it conveyed the right message for a client than risk saying the wrong thing (thankfully the clients who hire me want the right message). I am better at project billing than hourly billing because if I went hourly my clients would think I was ripping them off by billing like a lawyer.
- Even though I like the knowledge of building a website I would rather just supply the content. (Sadly people value the look of a website more than the content. People see looks but serious buyers and search engines search content.)
- I am a “techie”. I love knowing about technical things and am fascinated by equipment, software, technology, anything electrical, energy saving, energy generation, and recycling just to name a few things. I bore people when I start to talk about these things.
- I enjoy writing about things and for clients where I have to learn about them and there products or services.
I was lost but now am found…
I am writing again. Stay tuned.